Fubon’s sustainability efforts and positive influence contribute to the continuity of worldwide wellness.
COVID-19 has ravaged the world in 2020, infecting at least 6 million people and killing more than 400,000 people around the globe while dealing a severe blow to industries and economies everywhere. The pandemic has also sharply curtailed interpersonal interaction and international exchanges and profoundly affected people’s psyches and social culture. This novel coronavirus has changed the world, and citizens everywhere must now be ready to deal with the “post-pandemic era.”
As daily life ground to a halt, NASA scientists observed satellite images showing an Earth that was cleaner than ever before, an indication that the damage to the environment caused by everyday human activity is beyond what we imagined and that the “sustainability crisis” is, in fact, imminent.
Companies must be able to co-exist with society and the environment, and the greater their influence, the greater their responsibility. As we enter the post-pandemic era, figuring out how to develop their business while acting socially and environmentally responsible and creating a common good will test the wisdom of every enterprise. As one of Taiwan’s leading companies, Fubon Financial Holdings strongly believes that “now is the moment to stand up and take action.”
At a critical point in the outbreak, we asserted our leadership by acting responsibly. In early April 2020, Fubon Financial Holdings was the first company in Taiwan to announce before the end of a long holiday that high-risk employees returning from vacation could work at home, keeping our staff healthy and maintaining our high standard of customer service. The move was soon followed by our peers and companies in other sectors. Taking this initiative on epidemic prevention also indirectly helped the government contain the spread of the disease.
Fubon Financial Holdings has also long embraced this sense of leadership and responsibility in pursuing sustainability. Committed to making our financial clout count, we see ourselves as a driver of Taiwan’s push for sustainability and hope to spur business growth and become a positive force in society through sustainable governance, environmental and social practices.
In terms of governance, financial institutions shoulder the major responsibility of safeguarding customers’ wealth and put the highest priority on risk management. At the end of 2015, Fubon Financial Holdings launched the “ESG Visioning Project,” and then refined it in 2020 by adjusting its six major strategies to “sustainable governance,” “responsible finance,” “innovative services,” “environmental sustainability,” “employee care,” and “positive engagement.” “Sustainable governance” was the one newly added strategy to the project to strengthen risk controls, and a Corporate Sustainability Department was established to serve as the ESG Task Force’s secretarial unit. In that role, it mobilizes resources to promote sustainable practices throughout the organization. The advance measures we took to combat COVID-19 also reflected our emphasis on governance and rigorous management of risk.
In terms of the environment, Fubon Financial Holdings goes beyond government policy, taking environmental protection into its own hands. In the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index issued by Germanwatch, Taiwan ranked third to last in the survey of 58 countries, a sign that Taiwan remains under pressure to lower carbon emissions. In 2019, Fubon pursued several green finance projects, including serving as the lead arranger of a HK$1 billion syndicated loan to China Everbright Greentech and underwriting US$300 million in green bonds for ASE Technology Holdings, to encourage the low-carbon transformation of the tech sector and green industry development.
We hope to emerge as the “green accelerator” of the financial services sector, using not only investment and credit policies but also the core competencies of the insurance sector to promote change. At present, 100% of Taiwan’s offshore wind projects are covered by Fubon, helping renewable energy companies strengthen the resilience of their assets. In September 2019, meanwhile, Fubon Financial Holdings become a supporter of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), pledging to take positive action and exerting the “green” influence of the financial sector to address climate change issues.
In terms of social issues, we have relied heavily on innovation to address problems related to social change and created a “placemaking” program unique to the financial sector. Since 2014, Fubon Life has run a “Boundless Talent Project” that has so far invested resources to set up 120 branch locations in 68 predominantly rural townships, helping attract young people back to their hometowns to work. Tsai Shu-lian, a 23-yearold native of Daliao District in Kaohsiung, was one of the many young people who went north to find a job, but after being trained as an insurance agent, she moved back home to continue her career.
Her mother told us: “It’s great for children who have gone away to find a job to be able to return home and pursue a career. They can accompany us again, and it finally feels like a family again.” This is one of the many moving stories created by the Fubon program. Based on an SROI (social return on investment) tool we introduced in 2019, we found that every NT$1 we have invested in the “Boundless Talent Program” has created NT$11.61 in social benefits. This quantitative tool shows the success we have had in turning localities around through sustainable actions.
Fubon’s continued efforts in the ESG domain have helped it shine in international sustainability circles. In 2019, Fubon Financial Holdings was invited to attend the “Seminar on Environmental, Social and Governance Factors in Financial Markets” as part of the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process. Company President Jerry Harn took part and discussed ESG issues with international experts and representatives, setting a new milestone for sustainability in Taiwan. We have also received strong recognition from international ratings organizations. In 2019, Fubon Financial Holdings was selected for a third consecutive year to Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) highest tier, the “World Index,” and was ranked fifth in the world and first among Taiwanese companies in the “Insurance” category. It was also selected to the DJSI Emerging Markets Index for a fourth year in a row. Meanwhile, it was named to the MSCI ESG Leaders Indexes for a third year running and received an “A” MSCI ESG rating in the Life & Health Insurance category. Other honors included a return to a “B” score from the Carbon Disclosure Project.
In 2020, the global economic slowdown and the risk of uncertainty in capital markets could hamper private consumption growth. Because of ongoing trade friction between the United States and China, however, more export orders could shift from China to Taiwan, benefiting Taiwan’s electronics exporters and leading domestic companies to put more of their production in Taiwan. At the same time, the return of overseas Taiwanese companies to invest at home along with the development of wind power and 5G facilities should help extend domestic fixed investment growth. These two pillars – exports and private investment – will therefore be critical for Taiwan’s economy to maintain steady growth this year.
Fubon Financial Holdings will continue to deepen its presence in the Taiwan market while expanding its network in Asia and take further strides in risk management to support the pursuit of long-term, steady growth. Financial technology innovation will remain a top priority as we strive to become fintech leader in the industry. At the same time as we build the business and pursue innovation, however, we will aggressively promote sustainability and lead Fubon closer to its vision of becoming one of Asia’s first-class financial institutions.
Fubon Financial Holdings remains fully committed to the Fubon ESG Visioning Project, hoping to stand out as an international sustainability benchmark while firmly embedding the concept into the Company’s DNA. Embracing a vision of a common good, Fubon will continue to radiate positive energy to create a better tomorrow for the world.